Friday Ephemera
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Elsewhere (110)

Via dicentra, Kevin D Williamson on the many heads of modern feminism

Feminism is not an idea or a collection of ideas but a collection of appetites wriggling queasily together like a bag of snakes… A useful definition is this: “Feminism is the words ‘I Want!’ in the mouths of three or more women, provided they’re the right kind of women.” Feminism must therefore accommodate wildly incompatible propositions - e.g., (1) Women unquestionably belong alongside men in Marine units fighting pitched battles in Tora Bora, but (2) really should not be expected to be able to perform three chin-ups. Or: (1) Women at Columbia are empowered by pornography, but (2) women at Wellesley are victimised by a statue of a man sleepwalking in his Shenanigans. And then there is Fluke’s Law: (1) Women are responsible moral agents with full sexual and economic autonomy who (2) must be given an allowance, like children, when it comes to contraceptives.

Walter Russell Mead on how to ruin your life

Enrol in a college you can’t afford. Take really easy, fun courses [e.g., Politicizing Beyoncé, or The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Theodicy of Jay-Z]. Don’t worry about marketable skills. Blame society for the consequences (unemployment) of your attitude problem. Then demand the government (or your parents) bail you out. We guarantee you all the misery you could ever want.

Robert Stacy McCain argues with a middle-class communist

The extreme egoism of communist leaders is a trait displayed throughout the history of the movement since Marx’s ridiculous insistence that only his socialism was “scientific.” Yet such is Jesse Myerson’s egoism that he imagines himself superior even to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. At least they had the integrity to admit that the abolition of private property — the expropriation of the bourgeoisie — could only be accomplished by violent revolution, and that the victors of such a revolution would have to employ the methods of violent terror to establish their dictatorship.

And Daniel Hannan on the politics of spite:  

Ponder the graph above. Sixty-nine per cent of Labour supporters would want a top rate tax of 50 per cent even if it brought in no money… This is a blog about the mind-set of people who see taxation, not as an unpleasant necessity, but as a way to punish others.

As we’ve seen here many times, some Labour supporters are quite happy to parade their vindictiveness as if it were virtue

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. 



Myerson’s posing is intended for entirely selfish purposes: By presenting himself as an insuperable advocate of far-left “progressive” ideas, he expects to be praised and admired, and thus to be elevated to a position of leadership, obtaining for himself not only fame as a sort of radical celebrity, but also an easy income as a Professional Progressive Thinker.

Same old same old.


Mr Myerson, our would-be communist overlord, has cropped up here before in our ‘agonies’ series.

Obviously, we should defer to his superior intellect.


From Instapundit's comment section about the Feminist Mystique article:

Replace the word "women" with the words "the Democratic Party".

Read it one more time.

Tell me I'm wrong.

That's USA-specific, of course. "Leftism" and "progressivism" work just as well.


Mr Myerson, our would-be communist overlord, has cropped up here before in our ‘agonies’ series.

Wow. That's some powerful dumb.


Wow. That’s some powerful dumb.

Well, I think it captures Mr Myerson’s mix of ignorance and prodigious self-regard. There’s a certain obliviousness, an imperviousness, and an air of bad faith.

Like the middle-class communists I’ve had exchanges with, he seems to be rationalising desires that are even less edifying than his ostensible ambitions. When people who aren’t dullards choose to ignore repeated refutation, and choose to invert reality and habitually project, it’s wise to consider other, non-rational motives. Especially if those people want power over you. And your children.

It’s important to remember that, for devotees, Marxism and its variants provide a self-flattering ideology and a license for sadism tarted up as piety. They are the wise ones who will save us from ourselves. And all it will cost is “some restriction,” not least of our honesty and autonomy. Compile a few examples of this patrician ‘egalitarianism’ and some interesting patterns will tend to emerge. And some devotees will thrill to these ideas and imagine themselves and their peers in charge of the rest of us, managing our destiny and reshaping our preferences, whether we like it or not, while telling us, repeatedly, how much they value humility. That’s humility in others, presumably.

These aren’t just logical errors and bizarre failures of comprehension; they’re warning signs.


I was disappointed by how lame Myerson's effort was. Say what you like about Marxist theoreticians of the past but their ideas were interesting to grapple with. This guy claims that hip hop is among our greatest art forms, and seems to think that dwelling on the Stalinist purges will help his case.


That’s humility in others, presumably.

It always is.


It always is.

The repeated claims of humility were quite funny, coming from a group of people who like to talk about how “dangerous” their ideas are and who feel entitled to “break” a democratically elected government and initiate a “revolutionary transformation of society.” Thereby forcibly reorganising the lives and preferences of sixty-four million people, about whom they know nothing and for whom they show disdain. That kind of obliviousness isn’t an accident. It’s the nature of the beast.


I suspect BenSix is too modest to post a link to his own piece on Mr Myerson, so I will:

Myerson reminds us that capitalist states can be responsible for grave crimes. They can indeed. While they have had successes, though, in terms of human enrichment and liberation, communist states have had a record of nigh on complete failure. Myerson offers no real achievements to support them but instead attempts to minimise their awfulness. He takes on the claim that communists killed a hundred million people “for resisting dispossession” by observing that Stalin killed thousands of communists as well as kulaks, and that millions of Mao’s victims died of hunger, not in violence. True, Mr Myerson, victims of communist states were not all resisting dispossession. Stalin’s one-time allies perished because when small groups of men seize power in unstable states they tend to start eliminating threats to themselves, while the Chinese starved because of catastrophic mismanagement. You would think that the implications for central planning and the dictatorship of the proletariat would hurt rather than help Myerson’s cause. Indeed, you would be right.

The rest.

Spiny Norman

These aren’t just logical errors and bizarre failures of comprehension; they’re warning signs.

Ah! Comedy Economics and "failures of comprehension". I remember Sandwichman, probably one of the more obstinate and long-winded dolts who ever tried to "school" David and the rest of us.


I remember Sandwichman, probably one of the more obstinate and long-winded dolts who ever tried to “school” David and the rest of us.

The doublethink was matched only by his arrogance. At the time, it seemed a good idea to just let him bang on. The more he said, the deeper the hole got. If memory serves, there was the inevitable self-flattering appeal to ‘false consciousness’ – weren’t we “slaves suckling on the teats of TV adverts” or something? I ought to re-read some of those old threads, preferably with a good red close to hand.

[ Edited. ]

Horace Dunn

...preferably with a good red close to hand.

The only good Red...


Thanks, David.


Ah yes, Sammichman. That was quite a go, wasn't it? Where have all the flower people gone?

Nik White

These aren’t just logical errors and bizarre failures of comprehension; they’re warning signs.

Having missed this story ('Comedy Economics') first time round, I had not before come across the New Economics Foundation or their plan to save the planet by having everyone emulate the life of a secularised version of Saint Francis.

Unlike Chris Williams of the NEF, I am not a marine socio-economics coordinator or an economist, but nonetheless there was a distinct elevation of my right eyebrow in response to Mr Williams's 6 February blog post How to spot a bogus economic argument on the NEF website. With a devil-may-care attitude to unintended irony, he writes:

    When powerful people want to exploit the environment you’re guaranteed to hear the phrase ‘The economic case for…’ used to justify the damage. Accompanied by impressive forecasts about the amount of jobs created and investment generated, it is presented as a matter of fact – as if to disagree would be to desert common sense.

    What powerful vested interests don’t want you to know is that no economic case is ever truly clear. Predictions about the economy rely entirely on human assumptions, not facts.In the wrong hands, they are liable to be incorrect, over-confident or downright misleading. It’s up to us to judge whether the numbers are really all they seem.

As well as dividing society into powerful people and us, I especially enjoy the implied argument running through this that making a prediction that turns out to be false or even one which results in disastrous consequences at a later date is basically forgivable, so long as the assumptions behind those predictions were made by 'good' people, who always think in human terms, and not 'bad' people (who by implication are inhuman non-people).

I feel well and truly warned away from Mr Williams's desire to do me good.



You’re welcome. It’s kind of the point of the ‘elsewhere’ posts. Visitors bring offerings from far and wide, including posts of their own, especially if relevant.


Tim Worstall has had quite a bit of fun with the New Economics Foundation. My favourite line:

You know there’s something wrong with the metrics you are using to describe ‘best’ when your example of the best human society is a Stone Age one where penis sheaths are the major fashion accessory and they worship the Duke of Edinburgh as a living God. It’s the sort of result that would have anyone rational scurrying back to look at their basic assumptions to see where the error is.

And yet these clowns seem to be on speed-dial at the BBC.


Feminism: remember the days when it used to be about stuff like a woman doing the same job as a man should be paid the same as the man? And was it considered a dangerously radical notion!

What happened? -sigh-


The spam filter is once again getting ideas above its station. If anyone has trouble with comments not appearing, email me and I’ll thrash the thing with a broom.


Ed Driscoll has a good round-up of posts, some quite relevant to the above, including this by Jonah Goldberg, on the campus as the left’s model of utopia:

But even as this sensitivity is being cultivated, the student is stuffed to the gills with cant about the corruption of “the system,” i.e., the real world just outside the gates of his educational Shangri-La. He is taught that it is brave to be “subversive” and cowardly to be “conformist.” Administrators encourage kitschy re-enactments of 1960s radicalism by celebrating protest as part of a well-rounded education — so long as the students are protesting approved targets, those being the iniquities of “the system.” There is much Orwellian muchness to it all, since these play-acting protests and purportedly rebellious denunciations of the status quo are in fact the height of conformity.

A theme touched on here, more than once.


Re Driscoll, there was this:

Eschaton immanentizing utopian hobos armed with slide-rules are the scariest of all. (Perhaps seven years of the Big Bang Theory also put local Evanston residents off of the idea of transient academics huddling in their midst.)

Really? Eschaton immanent? Seems to me the academics with slide rules are the ones to have. Especially if you're having more than one. And this dis to Big Bang Theory is fodder for debasing his point. Which itself comes across as it's own academic scold that goes on and on. BBT often mocks and at times savages the very sort of sociology psychobabble that is wrong with academia. But I do like the Goldberg excerpt.


Hey, who changed the drapes?


Hey, who changed the drapes?

Heh. Today is this blog’s seventh birthday. Seven bloody years. I thought it was about time I flicked a duster round the place.


Congratulations! Another seven please.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Fruitbat44 - Yarp. It was never really about equality of opportunity for the radical feminists. Equal pay for equal work was just low hanging fruit to sell the movement to normal women.

Remember when Margaret Thatcher came to power and the feminists said it didn't count as a milestone in sexual equality because Mrs T was an honourary man?

Feminists also talk a lot about freedom of choice for women. But they sure don't like it when women choose to be wives, mothers, or conservatives.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

David - happy blog birthday!


Feminism is not an idea or a collection of ideas but a collection of appetites wriggling queasily together like a bag of snakes

Is a very good point indeed. I wonder if maybe US feminism has more of the "I want" character than the British variety. Here feminism is more a collection of complaints and conspiracy theories.

Many critiques of feminism address the obvious contradictions in the movement - too numerous to mention and existing from the fundamentals to the more casual claims from beserk Guardian contributors.

Williamson does a nice job of this, too. But the appeal of feminism to young women isn't from any intellectual precision - it's the easy power, and also the fact that the claims of feminism are designed to anger and scare women in equal measure (a device common to most political groups to some extent).

Warren Farrell argues effectively against feminism but in a slightly different style from those who point out the logical inconsistencies. Someone I was chatting to about this said that Farrell knew how to talk persuasively to women. Not many of the other critics of feminism do..

(not sure about the site revamp. The right column is spilling off the edge of the page for me + the comment box moves about on preview/edit)


(many happy returns btw. Pride of the blogosphere)



I’ve tweaked one of the settings. Is the right hand column still spilling off the page for you?


Ah much better on this browser (chrome on a an 11" screen), many thanks

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Congratulations on the anniversary! (I just passed six years a couple of weeks back, but I don't have anywhere near as many readers as you.)

I will admit, though, that it was a bit of a shock to the system to see the design change.

Col. Milquetoast

said that Farrell knew how to talk persuasively to women.

That doesn't stop some from calling him and anyone who wants to listen to him a rape apologist, calling it hate speech, shout people down and try to block the doors to his speech.

at 2:45 a woman asks "why this space to talk about that? … feminism, for example, offers lots of spaces to talk about mental health issues…"

Apparently, if you already have a philosophical framework that you like then no one else should be allowed to have a gathering with a different way of thinking.


Apparently, if you already have a philosophical framework that you like then no one else should be allowed to have a gathering with a different way of thinking.

It’s become pretty much the standard practice of chest-puffing leftist students and those who prey on their credulity. Remember the ludicrous Dana Cloud, an “activist and socialist” who teaches “social change,” and her thuggish attempts to stop David Horowitz speaking on campus? Because students mustn’t be exposed to ideas and facts at odds with the teachings of Dana Cloud. For Dr Cloud and her young acolytes, arguments are won with decibels. And flash mobs, and screamed accusations of racism. By daring to disagree with Dana Cloud, Horowitz was apparently trying to “censor intellectuals and dissent.” It’s just that the students were all “dissenting” in exactly the same way and didn’t want anyone dissenting from them.

And this worldview is no accident. It’s an intended outcome. It’s a common problem of a certain kind of conformist. They want others to do the same. In fact, they insist.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Make excuses for totalitarian collectivism that's perceived as coming from the right, and people will treat you as though you're beyond polite society (and rightly so).

Write bad things about everybody's "favorite" agitator for totalitarian collectivism who came at it from the left (Scruffy Ernie, of course), and there will immediately be a whole host of people defending such nasty collectivists and attacking the person who wrote the awful truth. And "polite" society considers it practually a virtue to do this.


Robert Stacy McCain continues to school the communist poseur Jesse Myerson:

Myerson and other neo-communists certainly must understand this, but cannot admit it: Marxism requires coercive violence — systematic terror — and the people most likely to lead such a violent enterprise are not timid intellectuals, but amoral brutes... Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin — all of them understood that communism could only be implemented by the violence of revolutionary terror. The preservation of the Soviet regime was therefore dependent on the merciless savagery of monsters like Dzezhinsky, Yagoda, Yezhov and Beria, whose crimes were not an accident of history, but were implicit in the Marxist ideology that academics like Ellen Meiksins Wood wish to rescue from the ruins of the Evil Empire it created. Under the influence of such academic impostors — for it is the habit of latter-day Marxist intellectuals to deny the centrality of violent terror to their doctrine — the young fool Jesse Myerson supposes he is qualified to enlighten us, correcting our “huge misconceptions about communism.” Myerson’s intellectual superiority to others is both the premise and conclusion of his every argument…

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